Saturday, August 04, 2007

Long Live Hogwarts

SPOILER WARNING: Don't read this if you haven't finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and don't want to be spoiled!

As I turned the last page, read the last line, and closed the last of the Harry Potter Books, Deathly Hallows, I threw my arms into the air and shouted for joy. I was thrilled not just because Harry overcame death and sorrow but because Hogwarts did too.

I, like many fans, was dreading the end of the Harry Potter series—I felt like the magical world that so captured my imagination would suffer a kind of death with the end of the series. I was afraid that rereading the books would never feel the same again because I wouldn’t be looking for clues to tell me how it would all end. I also feared that the magical world and particularly Hogwarts, would be so changed that it wouldn’t feel like home anymore.

I relished the trip on the Hogwarts express at the opening of (nearly) every book, anxiously anticipating the adventures that surely awaited us (me and Harry) at Hogwarts. I knew we would face plenty of villains and danger but the laughs, thrills, friends, and triumphs would more than make up for it – in fact the evils enhanced my appreciation of the good. Neville’s 10 points to win the house cup at the end of SS wouldn’t have meant much without a year of Malfoy and Snape’s bullying and Neville’s own lack of confidence. And the hunt for clues was of course, the best part of it all; the exhaustive search for a tiny bit of information that would be the key to guessing the ending of the book and ultimately the ending of the series.

As the series progressed, returning to Hogwarts each year felt less and less like it should. The evils began to outweigh the good and in DH, it was a truly terrible place to be. I was heartbroken. Hogwarts was my escape, my safe place-- not just Harry’s. I’ve spent years now counting on a trip to Hogwarts to give me a laugh, lift me from a foul mood, and transport me from the daily grind into the wonderful world of Harry Potter. As DH progressed and I saw what had happened to dear old Hogwarts, I could hardly bear it. Hogwarts was dying along with Harry and I couldn’t see how JKR would ever be able to restore it to its former glory.

And then she did.

Through a series of amazing plot twists and her unique brand of genius, JKR brought Harry back to life, and with him, dear old hoggy warty, Hogwarts. As Harry and Ginny herded their family through King’s Cross, waved at all their old friends, and attended to last minute scolding’s and reassurances, I wondered how I ever doubted the permanence and reliability of Hogwarts. Of course it would always be there! Platform 9 ¾ will ever remain a gateway into the magical world.

I realized that the first read through of the series was a like a first kiss and the hunt for clues, akin to that terribly exciting, consuming, twitterpaited, beginning of a relationship. Both are fantastically thrilling and can never be duplicated but in a great relationship, it’s what follows that’s really amazing. I’ve reread most of the HP books at least 7 times and I’ve loved them more, every time. And it wasn’t just the hunt for clues that made it great—I discovered more to appreciate with every reading. It was like falling in love over and over again.

As I reached the end of DH, it didn’t feel like an end at all. It seemed to me, more like the closing of a circle. Jo’s beautiful ending breathed immortality into the series. I can’t wait to go back and read all 7 books with an understanding of the end in mind—there are now so many layers of meaning imbedded in this story that like Hogwarts, I doubt if I will ever discover all her secrets.

But I will keep seeking them—and now I know that the laughs, thrills, friends and triumphs will never end.

Long live Hogwarts!

1 comment:

Kaz said...

Wow thats very deep! But I totally agree. I didn't think about it until I just read that but, it's so true how she needed to keep Hogwarts intact somehow or it would have been depressing! I also liked you analogy of reading Harry Potter to falling in love!
You're awesome Jen
Luv Kaz